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Libraries' Strategic Plan: AY21 Strategic Planning Process

Strategic Planning Process

Our Values

Following the work we did as a community during January's all-staff meeting in defining and expanding on the Libraries' values, the values committee worked to fully articulate the values by developing definitions, succinct slogans, and the skills and behaviors that express them. 

Miami University Libraries ValuesYou can download the values here. You can also view them on a webpage here

You can download computer backgrounds: 

Shaping, defining, and ensuring our strength

As you know, the university introduced a new campus-wide strategic plan, MiamiRISE, in Fall 2019. This energy and forward momentum, coupled with the work done on our Master Plan, offer the perfect opportunity for us as a community to build our own strategic plan. Together, we are creating an actionable roadmap that will shape our services, define our priorities, and ensure the continued strength and relevancy of our university library system.

Additionally, the Libraries has partnered closely with Tom Heuer, Forsythe Chair in Entrepreneurship & Assistant Clinical Lecturer at the Farmer School of Business. Tom has extensive experience in strategic planning in both corporate and higher education environments and has volunteered to assist the Libraries in this important initiative.

Strategic Plan Initiatives

In June 2020, facilitators for each initiative were confirmed and a session was held for each of the initiative facilitators to review ideas that have been collected from previous sessions and survey feedback and get started on the initiative action plans. The sponsors and facilitators for each initiative are:

  • Adaptability: Investigate, advocate, and implement flexible work environments and staff structures by July 30, 2021. While our focus will be on doing the research that will establish a foundation for long-term change as reflected in our final recommendations, we will also look for opportunities to take action throughout the process.  
    • Sponsor: Elias Tzoc
    • Facilitators: Jody Perkins & Kim Hoffman
    • Working group: Sean Poppe, Pam Hopkins, Cara Calabrese, Shawn Van Ness, and Meng Qu
  • Professional Development: Implement a comprehensive development program at all levels of the organization with at least 50% employee participation.
    • Sponsor: Alea Henle
    • Facilitators: Donna Richardson & Rachel Makarowski
    • Working group: Ginny Boehme, Stephanie Hilles, Jennie Holan, John Williams, Lissa Martin, Gabe Neff, Cody Sprunger, Jerry Yarnetsky, Tiffany Dogan, Jacyln Spraetz
  • Communicating services: Create infrastructure in order to communicate our values and cultivate community by (1) assessing and analyzing user needs, (2) solidifying a brand for the libraries, and (3) creating a brand ambassador program.
    • ​​​​​​​Sponsor: Kevin Messner
    • Facilitators: Nick Kneer & Nate Floyd
    • Working group: Nela Ahmed, Shawn Vanness
  • Meaningful partnerships: Analyze and cultivate values-driven partnerships to support services by pursuing grants, donor funding, and investing in relationship building.
    • ​​​​​​​Sponsor: Bill Modrow
    • Facilitators: Carla Myers & Katie Gibson
    • Working group: Jacky Johnson, Laura Sheppard, Masha Stepanova, John Williams
  • Virtual Spaces & Services: Ensure cohesive experience between virtual and physical spaces by expanding and marketing virtual spaces and services to increase user touchpoints by 15%.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Sponsors: Elias Tzoc & Stan Brown 
    • Facilitators: Ken Irwin & Alia Levar Wegner
    • Working group: Michael Bomholt, Anna Liss Jacobsen, Dani Owens, Andy Revelle, Rob Withers


Over the next few months, you can expect meaningful forward progress:


strategic plan high-level timeline

Be part of the process

  1. SWOT Survey: Thank you to those who provided their feedback.
  2. Participate in facilitated, in-person sessions: Thank you to those that participated in one of the four facilitated, in-person session. Over 80% of library staff participated in these sessions. 
  3. Participate in two drop-in sessions: Thank you to those that joined one of the two drop-in sessions. Over half of library staff participated in these sessions. 
  4. Participate in one student session: Thank you to the students that joined this session. Over 22 students across campus (campus leaders, dean's advisory boards, and current Libraries' student workers) participated in this session. 
  5. June 2020: Provide comments through the strategic plan updates survey and indicate interest in serving on initiative working groups. 

Virtual Sessions

  • On March 24 the leadership team and department heads gathered in a virtual environment to work on strategic goal drafts. The group worked on draft goals under the themes people/talent, our user experience, our environment (physical and virtual), and partnerships and funding. (picture)

  • On March 31 the leadership team and department heads gathered again in a virtual environment to brainstorm actionable and measurable initiatives to achieve our strategic goals.

  • On April 8, the leadership team and department heads gathered to pause, reflect, and assess the current work done to draft strategic goals and brainstorm initiatives against our ever-changing environment. The group put the goals and initiatives against the two questions: What is core to the Libraries? What do we fight for and aren’t willing to give up?
  • On April 14, the leadership team met to confirm our strategic goals and test the strategic goals against various scenarios. The goals of this session were to confirm our strategic goals and ensure these goals remain flexible through any scenario we find ourselves in.
  • On April 28, the department heads met to prioritize, define, and prototype initiatives for the strategic goals. These initiatives are currently undergoing confirmation and are still in draft form.
  • On April 29, updates on the strategic plan including our entire process and incredible progress since October were shared with the Libraries Alumni Advisory Board during a virtual meeting.

February Student Session

On February 19, over 22 student campus leaders, dean's advisory board members, and current Libraries' student workers joined a session to learn more about our strategic planning process and provide input on their goals and frustrations as our primary users, our winning aspiration statement, and needs with their Libraries experience. You can view the presentation slides here. 
During the primary audience/user activity here were the top takeaways: 
  • Frustrations: Not very cozy, "I didn't even know this was here", not knowing - resources, spaces, subscriptions, and snake chairs are ugly, want a cozy atmosphere, King Cafe feels isolated - doors lock - location of the library (end of campus)
  • Goals: Group area/collaboration, making the space more welcoming - collaborative study spaces, group spaces, inviting conversation rather than quiet, learning, finding quiet space, and technology & knowing what's available
  • What you think when using the Libraries' services: Things seem outdated, buckle-down time, come to be productive, how much longer do I have to be here to get my work done?
Top takeaways from the brainstorming user needs were: 
  • Save: physical books and access to materials at other institutions
  • Edit: visuals in the library -- walk colors, power strips with study areas, resource circulation desk with FAQs
  • Delete: Silent library stereotype, upstairs bookshelves (for more study space)
  • New: look and feel -- calming, meditative, plants, water features, can find a lot of things on the website, but could be more user-friendly or more appealing, more available information about all the resources for students

February Staff Drop-in Sessions

During the session there was a brief review of our strategic planning process thus far, an overview of Tom Heuer's planning model (slides 7 & 8), and information about what was covered in the 1/17 planning session. Staff were able to participate in 3 different activities to provide input on the winning aspiration working draft, primary audience, and brainstorming how we will win with the primary audience. You can find the presentation slides here. 

Top Takeaways from Input

Winning Aspiration:

  • This aspiration is future-thinking -- where do we want to go as a Library? This can also be thought of as our vision. 
  • Most of the feedback received centered around "indispensable destination" (we're not just a physical space) and ensuring we include "discovery". 
  • The winning aspiration should be finalized by spring break. 

Primary Audience/User

  • What are they typically from? Top three were: Ohio (includes Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland), everywhere, the Midwest
  • What are they studying? Top three were: CAS, Business, and everything
  • Where are they typically at in the student experience? Top three were: close to graduating, everywhere in between, and in the middle
  • What are their frustrations? Top three were: unsure of how to find what they need, not enough space to study, and juggling a lot (extracurriculars, life changes)
  • What are they looking to accomplish? Top three were: access to resources for research/a project, getting a job post-graduation, and academic success (includes completing an assignment)
  • When using library resources, what do they think? Top three were: hard to navigate/confusing, "that was so helpful", "I didn't know you had this"

"How will we win with our primary users?" Brainstorming: 

  • People (our staff): the majority of ideas were around talent management, attitude and skills our staff need to have, and customer service ideas
  • Physical space: the majority of ideas were around study spaces, creating more flexible, open space, and general space improvements/ideas (a wellness space, for example)
  • Partnerships & funding: the majority of ideas were around partnering with departments/faculty, student affairs/student life, and external partnership ideas
  • Primary user's experience: the majority of ideas were around creating easy access to resources/easy knowledge of resources, wellness opportunities, and student programming/events



SWOT Analysis Results

The SWOT analysis process took place October 21 through November 25. The SWOT analysis exercises were built to identify the Libraries’ top strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They included: 

  • An anonymous survey: Themes from the initial anonymous survey created a starting point for the in-person facilitated sessions. 
  • Four facilitated sessions: At each in-person session participants reviewed the emerging themes (sticky notes) from the survey, made any changes or additions, identified natural groups, named the themes, and selected the top for each area by voting using stickers (three stickers for each area, twelve stickers total per person). 

As a result, top themes for each area were identified. You can see a deeper dive into these results here. Please be sure to review slide 4 in the attached to help guide you through the results. 


How is this different from the Master Plan? The strategic planning process is an embedded step of the master plan. While the master plan set the 10-15 year stage for departmental reorganization and a bold reimagining of our space, the strategic plan is sets actionable, strategic steps to move forward. The strategic plan is an extension of the master plan and will help us define priorities, shape our services, and ensure the continued strength and relevancy of the Libraries.

What about the Librariesmission, vision, values? As a part of the strategic planning process, these will be included and clearly defined. 

What about the university's strategic plan? There is no better time for the Libraries to embark on the strategic planning process to complement and align with the recent university strategic plan and direction this provides.

Who is involved in this process? The entire Libraries community, alumni advisory board, and student advisory boards are all involved at various stages in this process. The feedback and input gathered from the Libraries staff through the anonymous SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) survey and in-person facilitated sessions are critical to shaping the draft of the strategic plan. Libraries senior leadership and department heads, in partnership with Tom Heuer, will create the draft of the strategic plan. 

Will the plan be reviewed/approved/supported by the Provost and/or President? Jerome has been and will continue to keep Provost Osbourne updated on our strategic planning process during their regular meetings. Once the plan is complete it will be shared with President Crawford and will not require his approval. 

What if I have questions, comments, concerns? You can get answers to any questions or concerns you might have about the process by contacting Elizabeth Kerr. You can also use the anonymous feedback form above.

When is this going to be done? The plan is to present in early spring 2020.

Questions, feedback, concerns?

Provide anonymous feedback here at any time.

You can also reach out to Elizabeth Kerr with questions, comments, or concerns.